2020 Presidential Primary Voting In 2019?

2020 Presidential Primary Voting In 2019?

2020 Presidential Primary Voting In 2019?

The next presidential election is set for 2020. However, if New Hampshire gets its way, the state might hold their presidential primary in late 2019 instead.

California is moving up their primary to March 3, 2020, and apparently New Hampshire officials are upset.

The idea that millions of absentee and mail-in votes could be cast in advance of California’s actual primary election day — and the prospect that presidential candidates might bypass the early states entirely to concentrate on target-rich California — is finally beginning to sink in.

Bill Gardner, the longtime secretary of state who has the legal authority to set the New Hampshire primary election date, told POLITICO he doesn’t plan to set the date for the nation’s first presidential primary until the fall, when he will better understand the potential impact of California’s early voting and determine whether other state legislatures have attempted to infringe on the Granite State’s first position.

While the schedule set forth by the Democratic National Committee has New Hampshire’s primary slated for Feb. 11, 2020, Gardner raised the prospect that the date could change.

“Not the case,” said Gardner, referring to the Feb. 11 date. “I haven’t set the date. I’ll set the date, most likely, next fall.”

Was it possible that he could set the nominating contest as early as December 2019? Gardner called that speculative, but wouldn’t rule it out.

“Well, the law, and the circumstances could require that. The law says it can be in the year of the election or the year before,” he said. “The law provides a great deal of flexibility in order to preserve the tradition of the primary.”

Long the guardian of New Hampshire’s role as the first-in-the-nation primary, Gardner says he’s waited as late as Dec. 21 before setting the next year’s primary date.

California’s March 3 date doesn’t infringe on the New Hampshire statute requiring that it hold its presidential primary seven days before any other state’s primary. But the prospect of a massive early vote from California — absentee and early voting begin 29 days prior to primary election day — could be interpreted by Gardner as a violation of the spirit of New Hampshire’s law.

In other words, this is a big huge imminent turf war headache between the states.

Gardner’s deliberations are being closely watched in Iowa, another state that zealously guards its special status. If Gardner were to move up his state’s primary date, it would remake the early-state calendar since Iowa requires its caucuses — currently set for Feb. 3, 2020 — to take place eight days ahead of New Hampshire.

The uncertainty lies with the candidates and whether they will shift their time and resources to California and away from Iowa and New Hampshire, said Norm Sterzenbach, a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party who oversaw the 2008 Iowa caucuses and subsequent coordinated campaigns.

“If the candidates say, ‘It’s fine, New Hampshire is first, but California is just so delegate-rich we just can’t afford to spend time in New Hampshire, we have to be in California to win these delegates’ — and then they don’t go to Iowa or New Hampshire — then that would diminish the importance and likely make [Gardner] feel like he’s gotta make some kind of ruling.”

Sterzenbach, who’s now consulting with the state party on rule changes affecting the 2020 Iowa caucuses, said Iowa officials will likely start thinking of an alternate caucus date to prepare for a Gardner move.

So, in a nutshell – New Hampshire gets the first primary, but Iowa gets the first caucus, and there are actual laws on the books that determine who does what and when. And because California is going to be a huge prize for any Democratic primary candidate because of the number of delegates is carries (and the California Democratic party officials were planning on being in the thick of the national conversation by moving up their primary date), New Hampshire isn’t ruling out moving their primary to December 2019.

Another early Christmas gift, everyone!!! It isn’t enough that the Democrats will be gifting us debates starting next summer – now we might get a New Hampshire primary for next Christmas!

In this digital age of social media, this staggered primary schedule that allows for actual campaigning in each state may not be as essential as it once was. But there is another reason that New Hampshire and Iowa cling so hard to their “first” status. And that is the almighty dollar:

… if primary-season spending in Iowa and New Hampshire was the same percentage of total spending as in other states, it would mean those states saw nearly $50 million less than they did from 2005 to 2018.

Or, to go back to our other metric: $9 less per capita in Iowa and $15 less per capita in New Hampshire.

No wonder they fight so hard to go first.

And no wonder why they resent very-blue, delegate-rich California horning in on their territory.

But I think that I speak for all of us when I say that a primary election in December 2019 is the last thing any of us want to see. Once you cross the threshold and hold a presidential primary election in the calendar year before the actual election year, there is no going back. We already live in perpetual election cycles. Must we stretch this particular brand of insanity out THAT much further??

Featured image via Pixabay CC0 1.0 license

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Ava Gardner